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Top tips for DIY wedding flowers

Expert florist Judith Blacklock reveals everything you need to know before you tackle doing your own wedding flowers

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Gold and pink hand tied

Getting started

  1. Gather troops! My first tip to all brides and mothers is to enlist as many willing family members and friends as you can. You will also require foliage pickers, lifters, bucket fillers and tea/G&T makers. The days leading up to the wedding are stressful enough, no matter how organised, so don’t be shy of recruiting cheerful support.
  2. Know your limits. I strongly recommend that you concentrate your skills on the ceremony and reception flowers, leaving the fiddly bridal work to florists. This will ease both your workload and stress levels; bouquets and buttonholes that haven’t been made properly will wilt in the heat.  
  3. Care for your flowers. To ensure longevity, you will need to condition them (remove excess leaves, cut stem ends and place in clean water) for a good six hours before placing them in floral foam. If you’re using garden material, pick the flowers at dusk and leave in buckets to drink for at least 24 hours. If the wedding is planned for a cold winter’s day, you need to remember that flowers can suffer from frostbite, so don’t leave them in a freezing stable.
  4. Buy seasonally. It’s true that many flowers are now available all year round, so you can source peonies in January (though not many suppliers would wish to guarantee this), but they will be extortionate and will look out of place. Much like wearing velvet in July, or eating asparagus in November.
  5. Be inspired by the venue. It always works best when the garden and the wedding flowers look like they’re invited to the same party. It may seem clichéd to use heather and thistles in the Highlands and garden roses in Hampshire, but it’s a recipe that works. Even if it’s winter, your guests will notice the garden. So do plant some of the key flowers you have chosen near to the marquee, or front door, and, select flowers that grow in your garden for the reception. Be careful not to choose too many, though – unless, of course, you have a designated picking garden.
  6. Think classic. It’s not original, but the photos will still look stunning on your golden anniversary.
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Pretty posies can be given away

Dressed to impress

  1. Consider your surroundings. When choosing containers – especially for table centres – consider the venue in terms of formality and scale. Jam jars may be charming in a small marquee in Dorset, but they will look silly in the Banqueting House, under Henrietta Maria’s gaze; I have an inkling that crystal and silver would be more her thing.
  2. Don’t forget candles. It’s lovely to accessorise the tables with candles – whether displayed in storm shades, candelabra, candle sticks, or even free-standing – and lots of tealights in holders that complement the table centre. They create the most magical and flattering light.
  3. Strict budget? Then arrange a few large designs rather than lots of fussy, smaller ones. This will create more impact – especially in churches.
  4. Reduce waste. Using trees and smaller plants wherever possible cuts down on some of the waste post-wedding, which is always a depressing sight. I encourage brides to choose a table design that can be given away easily. Bunches of flowers that have been tied are ideal, as are arrangements in disposable plastic containers, but make sure to conceal the latter in the design. Your guests will be thrilled to take home a floral memento.
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Read more about Judith Blacklock’s in-depth tutorials at www.webshop.judithblacklock.com